Multisensory perception and attention in school-age children Academic Article uri icon


  • Although it is well known that attention can modulate multisensory processes in adults and infants, this relationship has not been investigated in school-age children. Attention abilities of 53 children (ages 7-13 years) were assessed using three subscales of the Test of Everyday Attention for Children (TEA-Ch): visuospatial attention (Sky Search [SS]), auditory sustained attention (Score), and audiovisual dual task (SSDT, where the SS and Score tasks are performed simultaneously). Multisensory processes were assessed using the McGurk effect (a verbal illusion where speech perception is altered by vision) and the Stream-Bounce (SB) effect (a nonverbal illusion where visual perception is altered by sound). The likelihood of perceiving both multisensory illusions tended to increase with age. The McGurk effect was significantly more pronounced in children who scored high on the audiovisual dual attention index (SSDT). In contrast, the SB effect was more pronounced in children with higher sustained auditory attention abilities as assessed by the Score index. These relationships between attention and the multisensory illusory percepts could not be explained solely by age or children's intellectual abilities. This study suggests that the interplay between attention and multisensory processing depends on both the nature of the multisensory task and the type of attention needed to effectively merge information across the senses.

publication date

  • 2019